Rock Hill Theatre Presents The Sweet Science of Bruising- Review 

An Encore Performance of RHHS’s U.I.L One Act Play

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Sarah Elting

Rock Hill Theatre’s group photo after performing and advancing from the district competition for U.I.L OAP. “My favorite memory would have to be when we had our Bi-District Competition at Lebanon Trail,” Sophomore Stephen Goree said, “although we didn’t advance we still accomplished so many things.” Rock Hill Theatre’s encore performance is this Tuesday, March 29 in the RHHS auditorium.

Fun Facts About Boxing-

 

The world of boxing and “lady boxing” is long, and some fascinating facts are hidden in boxing history. To share in some of the fun, here is a brief list of facts about boxing:

 

  1. The official name of boxing is pugilism which the definition of it is the practice and skills of fighting with fists. A boxer is known as a pugilist.
  2.  The term “Sweet Science” was coined by British sportswriter Pierce Egan in 1813, who used it to describe how the fighters are required to be scientific in their approach. Eva Shain was the first female professional boxing judge in 1975.
  3. The “bare-knuckle” era was the peak of British boxing. Fighters would often fight with no gloves on and usually with no rules.
  4. In the year 1992, 16-year-old Dallas Malloy became the first female to challenge the law for USA Boxing which didn’t allow women to fight at the time. She sued them in federal court for gender discrimination.
  5. In 1996, England lifted the 116-year ban that didn’t allow amateur women to box.
  6. In 2012, women’s boxing was finally seen as an Olympic sport during the 2012 London Games.

 

Credit to Rock Hill Theatre’s playbill for February 25 performance. 

 

About The Sweet Science of Bruising 

The Sweet Science of Bruising was Rock Hill Theatre’s 2022 production for their UIL One Act Play competitions. 

 

“Sweet Science of Bruising was based in London in 1869. Four different Victorian-era women are drawn into the dark underground world of female boxing, each for their reasons, by the eccentric Professor Sharp,” director Sariea Haney said,  “In a society that is controlled by men and constrained by corsets in and out of the ring, each fighter [in the play] finds an unexpected freedom in the boxing ring.” 

 

Women at the time were restricted in all matters of their lives, including education, jobs, and hobbies. Often they rebelled from what society expected of them, to feel that they could have more control over their lives, and for the four ladies in The Sweet Science, this led them to box. 

 

“As their lives begin to intertwine, their journey takes us through grand drawing rooms, bustling theatres and rowdy Southwark pubs, where the women fight inequality and each other,” Haney said.

 

Throughout the show, the audience finds reasons to root for all four women, believing them all to be winners, but at the end of the day, wanting someone to win isn’t enough.

 

“With the final showdown approaching, only one can become the Lady Boxing Champion of the World,” Haney said. 

 

Because the play takes place during the 1860s, the strength that the women need to find in order to become boxers is even more prevalent. In 1868, where the play is centered, the woman’s suffrage movement in the UK was just getting its start following the signature of 1,500 strong submitted to Parliament, petitioning that women get a vote. 

 

“This play is about Women Empowerment, to show that a woman can do anything a man can and better too,” sophomore Stephen Goree, who played the role of Paul, said, “without a man there to support her.” 

 

Review

I enjoyed how it felt vibrant and lively at the beginning of the play when each character was introduced. The characters are featured in scenes that show their personalities, making each of these moments a more vibrant part of the play.  The strength of the beginning allowed me to feel connected with the characters in my own life based on my past experiences. 

 

I also loved how the professor was a key role member in the play. Professor Charlie Sharp moved the scenes along by announcing the different girls, as well as connecting with them when he was introduced to the scene, a unique player that helped bring out the story and made the show more interesting to the audience. 

 

Another aspect of the professor would be his ability to always get the girls and the audience within the play pumped up before the different choreographed boxing matches in the play. While the professor is a man who likes money, I enjoyed the aspect that he would always support these women who had tough times at home. 

 

Throughout the play, the music either crescendoed (increased in volume or intensity) while a certain scene was becoming intense, like the boxing scenes, or decrescendoed (decreased in volume or intensity) while a scene felt like it was calming down or was less intense. In addition, the sound effects made it seem like you were actually in the moment and not just watching a play.  

 

For these four main characters, I loved that they never gave up and that each of them was eager to find their independence. But throughout the play, I felt like the drama between the four completely different women included their want for freedom from the different male figures in their lives.

 

Paul and Polly were a couple who loved each other and wanted the best for each other until a decision made by Paul caused Polly to go back to boxing. I enjoyed the plot twist when Polly and Paul anticipated getting married and having a child, but boxing became difficult for Paul in the ring. Their happiness turned sour when Paul hit Polly in the face, even after she’d given up her dream as a boxer to be with Paul and create a family.

 

Polly’s strength after she went back to her dream of becoming a boxer because she didn’t want to support him for abusing her was a very significant part of her character that I thought was important. 

 

Throughout the show, Anna, a woman who seems to have everything, is being abused by her husband, Gabriel. Gabriel also cheated on Anna, which doesn’t help his case. Anna felt like she couldn’t escape, so she retaliated against her husband and beat him to death during a final fight.

 

In the end, Anna’s hanging was not justified because of her husband’s continuous abuse. Her actions were self-dense. 

 

Overall, the show was phenomenal, and I believe that this group of kids will continue to impact the lives of the audience members who watch The Sweet Science of Bruising

The Fight Goes On 

 

Rock Hill Theater performed The Sweet Science of Bruising at three levels of the UIL One Act Play competition before their advancement stopped. During the competitions, the company received several individual awards that are given to actors, technicians, and the company as a whole. 

 

At Zone, Honorable Mention All-Star Cast Award was given to junior Margaret Gardizi as Anna Lamb, freshman Lyric Patino as Professor Charlie Sharp, and sophomore Taylor Bedford as Matilda Blackwell. RHT also received All-Star Cast Awards given to senior Ella Dellanbach as Violet Hunter and freshman Audra Rogers. Lastly, an Outstanding Technician Award was given to senior Mckenna Bowman.

 

At District, Gardizi, Bedford, Dellanbach and Rogers received the same awards as the previous competition. In addition, junior Emma Elting received the Outstanding Technician Award, and the company received Best Tech Crew, which is given to the company that showcases a unified cast and crew. 

 

At Bi-District, while RHT did not advance to the next level of competition, Rogers along with junior Logan Dixon as Gabriel Lamb, received Honorable Mention All-Star Cast. In addition, Dellanbach once again received an All-Star Cast award, and Bowman received one last Outstanding Technician Award. 

 

This article was edited for clarity of terms regarding the name for the technical award, March 30